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Opioid addiction bills pass, head to state Senate

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A package of bills aimed at addressing opioid addiction in Wisconsin passed the state Assembly Tuesday.

The proposals are part of HOPE agenda, a major focus of Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) to combat the opioid crisis as his own daughter struggled with addiction. 

One proposal would train staff at county jails to use Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of a heroin overdose.  

Another allows people to use their Medicaid benefits for peer recovery coaches to help others through treatment or recovery.

Rep. Nygren also sponsored a bill to prevent state employees from being penalized for using medication or therapy to treat opioid addictions. All these proposals head to the Senate for consideration. 

While most Democrats support these measures, Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) stressed before session he wanted to focus on additional funding for mental health in schools and the need for criminal justice reform.

“There might be some handshakes and celebrations today but overall what we’re taking up represents a missed opportunity,” said Hintz

The clock is ticking to get Democrat's proposals passed this year as lawmakers plan to wrap up session by mid-march.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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